Horner, Winifred B. “Speech-Act and Text-Act Theory: ‘Theme-ing’ in Freshman
Composition.” College Composition and Communication 30.2 (1979): 165-169.
JSTOR. 6 Nov. 2007 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-
This compact article presents a brief overview of Speech-Act theory as proposed
by J.L. Austin. After establishing this base relating to Austin’s three types of uttered
statements (locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary), Horner complicates the theory
by applying it not to face-to-face conversations but to teacher and student interactions
with texts. The basic idea is that students and teachers can make more sense of the act of
writing “themes” in a composition course if they understand their roles in the Text-Act
theory she proposes. These roles, she says, are based on examining the “real
illocutionary force behind these writing acts” (169).
While this article is very helpful in helping to establish the apparently elusive
relationship between composition and Speech-Act Theory, it is a bit old. It did expand
my thinking about the possibilities of implementing aspects of Speech-Act and Text-Act
theory into the classroom, but it appears the types of connections that can be made deal
more with a change in perspective as opposed to an actual change in the world. The
article points to avenues for giving students the ability to actually do things with their
writing, but it doesn’t actually give concise directions of where to go once those roads are
in sight. I’m hoping I can find some articles about Text-Act theory.